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My Research

 Wellesbourne STP River Dene biodegradation test PNP biodegradation pathways Pseudomonas syringae AKDH2 stained with DAPI 


The role of adaptation in biodegradation of chemical pollutants: extrapolation from laboratory to rivers


PhD project overview

Current Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) biodegradation tests do not reflect environmental realism as they are conducted in the dark with a non-standardized inoculum from a range of environmental compartments and they involve high concentrations of tested pollutants. Therefore, in this PhD project I have investigate the importance of inoculum quality for the biodegradation tests, in particular the relationships between microbial biomass density and diversity, as well as the importance of adaptation phase and pollutant concentration for biodegradation processes. A range of cutting edge molecular community profiling methods have been used, including the use of high thoughput sequencing techniques. The results have improved our understanding and more realistic assessment of natural biodegradation processes in laboratory systems.

The key objectives of the project were:

  • the effect of environmental factors, particularly those which are of direct discharge conditions, on adaptation and biodegradation processes
  • the role of quality of inoculum in terms of its size, diversity and biodegradability potential, on the biodegradation of pollutants
  • the inoculum source (river water, sediment, river biofilm) and how it influences the ratio between whole microbial community and specific degraders community and its impact on biodegradation processes
  • development and application of microbial ecology techniques (functional marker assay, Terminal Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism (TRFLP), QPCR assay, 454 and Illumina) for studying the diversity of microbial populations involved in the biodegradation processes



I was a member of:




 Effluent from Wellesbourne STP brick with slides for biofilms development introducing bricks at downstream sampling site river biofilms developed on slides after 8 days














Main Supervisor:

Dr Gary Bending

The University of Warwick
School of Life Sciences, Gibbet Hill Campus
CV4 7AL, Coventry, United Kingdom


Dr Hendik Schafer

The University of Warwick
School of Life Sciences, Gibbet Hill Campus
CV4 7AL, Coventry, United Kingdom

Dr Oliver Price, Dr Chris Finnegan and Dr Roger van Egmond

Safety & Environmental Assurance Centre, Unilever, Colworth Park,
Sharnbrook, Bedford, MK44 1LQ, United Kingdom